Kogi Governorship: APC, PDP in supremacy battle
November 21 is the date, and two political parties are in the limelight - the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which is warming up to repeat in the ‘Confluence State’ the feat it achieved during the last general elections in other places.
The PDP, which has the incumbent governor Idris Wada as its candidate, wants to retain the governorship. The APC is presenting Prince Abubakar Audu, who was the governor between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Last Wednesday, the two parties inaugurated their campaign committees headed by prominent party leaders with the common goal of ousting each other at the poll.
The APC constituted a 24man National Campaign Council for Kogi State Governorship Election led by Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello.
The APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawan Shuaibu, will serve as deputy chairman of the campaign team, while the Director-General of the candidate’s campaign organization will serve as member and secretary.
Other members of the National Campaign Council include Prince Audu, governors Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau), and Ortom Samuel of Benue State.
The membership also includes Mr. Zakari Idde, Senator Osita Izunaso, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, Senator Dino Melaye, Senator Mohammed Abdulsalami, Senator Abdulrahman Abubakar, Alhaji Haddy Audu Ametuo, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Olorogun Kenneth Gobaji, Tijani Musa Tumsah, Hon.Faleke Abiodun James, Hajia Hassana Abdullahi, Mr. Terver aginde, and Mrs. Tina Adike.
While inaugurating the campaign team in Abuja at the party’s national secretariat last Wednesday, the APC National Chairman, Chief John OdigieOyegun, said that the party must win the November 21 governorship election in Kogi State.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun maintained that the party must win the poll to prove that the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan’s ‘monstrous regime’ was not a fake.
The APC boss, who said the team was charged with the responsibility of delivering Kogi State, urged them to mobilize all resources to achieve its target.
“We are here for a very unique event. Its uniqueness is not because it is Kogi State. It is unique because Kogi State is providing the APC with the very first major opportunity to test its continued popularity and acceptability.
“Therefore, it places a heavy onus on you as the campaign committee that it is an election we must win. This election, we must win. We must win to prove the point that the national election where we removed a more monstrous regime from office was not a fake. In Kogi State, you are facing yet another incumbent government from the opposition.
“The task before this committee is enormous. You have to put together the financial and human resources. You have to work on the logistics and whatever it takes to ensure that Kogi State joins the progressive fold. I wish the chairman and members of his team and the candidate the very best of luck,” he added.
He said the advent of an APC government would bring the needed change and put a halt to ‘near total breakdown’ in the state.
“To achieve this,” Chief Odigie-Oyegun added, “we have a very formidable campaign team with all governors of the zone who agreed willingly to participate. Secondly, we have NWC as part of the committee. We also have representatives of every zone.”
He explained that the Deputy National Chairman North, who also serves as deputy chairman to the Campaign Team, would be assisted because of his busy schedule.
He also clarified the reason why Governor Al-Makura of Nasarawa State was replaced as the chairman of the campaign team. He said President Muhammadu Buhari gave him the assignment to coordinate the Federal Government team on the Hajj stampede challenge.
Responding, the chairman of the Campaign Team and Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Sani Bello, thanked the APC boss for reposing confidence in them. Governor Bello, who promised to work towards achieving the goal of delivering Kogi State, pledged to work with the candidate and APC members in the ‘Confluence State’.
He also promised to incorporate youth and women in the campaign team.
“Let me thank our chairman for giving us this opportunity. Our mandate is to deliver Kogi State by November 21. Insha Allah, that will be achieved. I want to pledge our group cooperation and support to our candidate and members of the APC in Kogi State,” he said.
On the other hand, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had earlier set up the National Campaign Committee for Kogi State. A statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, stated that the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, is to lead the Kogi State campaign committee as Chairman, while PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Secretary, Senator Walid Jibril, will serve as Deputy Chairman and the National Legal Adviser of the party, Barrister Victor Kwon serves as secretary.
The Kogi committee also has the former Senate President, Senator David Mark, seven PDP state governors and other key stakeholders as members.
The PDP acting Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, while inaugurating the committee, urged the members to start the job immediately by ensuring that they reconciled all interest groups in Kogi, managed and raised funds for the campaign, facilitated media campaign and incorporated social media and voters education.
The campaign, which is also expected to train the party agents and coordinate activities in the situation room for the party, will also mobilize the youth and women.
Prince Secondus said the PDP had done all it needed to have done in accordance to the law as it facilitated a transparent primary election, urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be an unbiased umpire. While imploring the security agencies to also maintain neutrality, he promised that the PDP would conduct a civilised campaign devoid of violence during the electioneering period.
“We have fulfilled all righteousness for Kogi and Bayelsa states. For the first time in our party, we have done very fair primaries process. We have lifted the standard.
“We have carefully selected men of timber and caliber to seat, plan, engineer and reengineer the campaign for us to win these two states.
“We will do the most civilized campaigns. PDP will never be involved in violence. We call on INEC and the security agencies to come and conduct a good election. We call on the APC government to conduct free and fair elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”
Already, the two sides have launched political fireworks. Last Wednesday, the PDP claimed that the APC had been inciting violence in Kogi and Bayelsa states with a view to causing confusion, frustrating the electoral process and impeding the forthcoming governorship elections in the two states.
A statement by the PDP national publicity secretary called on the people of Kogi and Bayelsa states to be vigilant.
The statement urged President Buhari to see the two forthcoming elections as litmus tests of his democratic credentials.
“As the father of the nation,” the statement said President Buhari should take ‘immediate’ steps to call members of his party, the APC, in the two states to order. The PDP also appealed to all security agencies and the international community to note what it called ‘evil machination’ of the APC.
As the two key parties send their foot soldiers to the election battle field in Kogi State with little regard for a third force which can come from any of the existing parties, Nigerians are watching to see how these political heavyweights will outwit one another to get to ‘Lugard House’.